First Posted: 7/29/2014
PLAINS TWP. — About 16 alleged fraud victims of Wyoming Homes owner David Valenti hurled remarks at him in a district judge’s courtroom Tuesday, saying he should go to jail if they don’t get refunded their down payments.
Outside, they chanted “Wyoming Homes makes owning a home a nightmare.”
The crowd may become larger as two law enforcement sources said Tuesday that Valenti could possibly face more charges related to allegedly swindling would-be homeowners.
Valenti, 61, of Glenmaura Drive, Moosic, appeared for a preliminary hearing before District Judge Diana Malast on Tuesday on separate felony counts of theft based on allegations he never delivered newly constructed module homes after receiving down payments from two customers.
His business is located on Route 315 in Plains Township.
One of the victims lost her home during the September 2011 flood and paid Valenti a $6,000 down payment for a new home that never was produced, according to the criminal complaint.
Before Valenti waived the two theft counts, filed by Luzerne County detectives, to county court, Plains Township police charged him with swindling $3,400 from a couple who made a down payment for a house.
During breaks of the court proceeding for paperwork to be processed, the capacity-filled courtroom of alleged victims, some who are elderly using walkers and wheelchairs, made derogatory remarks about Valenti, who did not react.
Outside, a small group centered around Darlene Cirko and chanted, “Wyoming Homes makes owning a home a nightmare.”
Cirko, Bear Creek Township, alleged Valenti delivered the wrong house without a wheelchair ramp and rails.
“I bought a trailer from him and he never came back to finish anything,” Cirko said. “He ripped me off with different things. I was suppose to get central air (conditioning), I never got that. Things that were imperative to the house with being in a wheelchair wasn’t done. The house came without handles or a handicap ramp.
“If we’re not going to get our money back, he should sit the rest of his life in jail,” Cirko added.
Valenti and his lawyer, Nanda Palissery, opted not to comment when leaving court.
Court records also indicate Valenti is facing theft and bad check charges in Susquehanna County in a similar scheme.
According to the three criminal complaints filed in Luzerne County:
• Marita Zim purchased a module home from Wyoming Homes after her house in Exeter Township, Luzerne County, was destroyed during the September 2011 flood. She made a $6,000 down payment plus $415 rental in a trailer park in anticipation the module home would be installed. Valenti agreed to refund Zim in April 2013 but never fulfilled his promise, the complaint says.
• Margaret Scholz of Dallas purchased a module home from Valenti’s company and made a series of down payments totaling $11,800 from November 2012 to August 2013. Scholz allegedly learned Valenti never ordered the home to be manufactured, according to the complaint.
• Jon and Heather Dutko of Plains Township issued a $3,400 down payment for a module home in December 2011. When they could not obtain financing, they requested a refund at which Valenti denied the request, the complaint says.